Mercy's Dr. Anurag Maheshwari Explains Importance of Early Detection for Primary Biliary Cholangitis (PBC)

May 21, 2018
Digestive Health and Liver Disease at Mercy - Dr. Mahashwari

A rare and chronic disorder known as primary biliary cholangitis, or PBC, impacts more women than men. There is no clear cause or cure, but detecting it early, can make a big difference.

The day that Lisa Shanahan said her life was saved was the day her son donated a portion of his liver. 

"My son was a match for me. He was only 19 at the time, and it’s been amazing. He helped me," Shanahan said.

He saved her. Shanahan has PBC, which is a rare autoimmune disease.

"The target organ of damage is the lining of the bile ducts where it causes damage to these bile ducts, causing eventual destruction," explained Dr. Anurag Maheshwari, a liver disease specialist with The Center for Liver and Hepatobiliary Diseases, part of The Melissa L. Posner Institute for Digestive Health & Liver Disease at Mercy in Baltimore, MD.

That can lead to scarring, which can eventually cause cirrhosis. That's why Dr. Maheshwari said early diagnosis is so important.

"We can help patients with PCB, particularly those diagnosed in early stages, so that's the other educational piece out there," Dr. Maheshwari said.

The problem is that patients with PBC have few signs.

In the early stages, there are fatigue, also itchiness, and jaundice.

Shanahan experienced all of that.

"My eyes got yellow before anything else, and they got so yellow. Then, my skin started turning yellow," Shanahan said.

But by that time, her liver was in rough shape. Since the transplant, Shanahan said her health has been much better.

She's now involved in a support group called the PBCers. Since so many more women than men get the disease, she said she hopes to pass along an important message: Don't dismiss your symptoms.

"A woman knows her body. She knows what's going on, and if something is not right and your doctor says it’s in your head, see another doctor," Shanahan said.

An early diagnosis can make all the difference in the world.

View Mercy liver health specialist Dr. Anurag Maheshwari’s interview regarding women and PBC.

Dan Collins - Senior Director of Media Relations at Mercy Medical Center

Dan Collins, Senior Director of Media Relations

Email: Office: 410-332-9714 Cell: 410-375-7342

About Mercy

Founded in 1874, Mercy Medical Center is a university-affiliated medical facility named one of the top 100 hospitals in the U.S. by Thomson-Reuters with a national reputation for women’s health. Mercy is home to the nationally acclaimed Weinberg Center for Women’s Health and Medicine as well as the $400+ million, 20-story Mary Catherine Bunting Center. For more information visit Mercy online at, Facebook, Twitter or call 1-800-MD-MERCY.

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